Sri Lanka Association for Dramatherapists celebrated the Dramatherapy Day on Friday, October 5th, 2018. This event was organized to coincide with the World Mental Health Day. There was a large gathering that attended this event. The Chief Guest of this occasion was Dr Rohan Rathnayake, Deputy Director of the Mental Health Unit in the Ministry of Health.
Dr Ravindra Ranasinha and Ms Tehani Chitty took the lead in introducing what is dramatherapy. Ms Tehani Chitty conducted two warm-up games, to enable the participants to get to know each other and to build group cohesion. Dr Ravindra Ranasinha used stones of different colours and shapes to commence the Main Phase. The stones became symbols for diverse feelings and emotions that the participants have experienced in their lives. They shared their life experiences within the circle, and then sculpted their felt experiences. It was a novel experience for the audience to become aware of their own feelings and experiences.
Next Ms Tehani Chitty lead the participants through an imaginative journey. This was an outdoor activity. The participants visited ‘a far-away land’ and then returned to listen to a story connected with stones. The participants actively engaged in enacting the story, enabling them to view how fixed mindsets become destructive and unproductive.
The Dramatherapy Day contained topics such as Trauma-focused Dramatherapy, School Counselling, Problems with Children and Dramatherapy, Conquering Depression through Dramatherapy, and Dramatherapy through an Ayurvedic Lens. Since these sessions were completely activity-based, the participants had the opportunity to work in group form. They showed active participation, and had an experiential learning about dramatherapy. The activities helped the participants to learn diverse tools in dramatherapy and their impact.
The above four sessions, aimed in raising awareness on dramatherapy, were conducted by Udara Sandamani (PGDCou, Cert. in DTh), Kumudu Ekanayake (PGDCou, Cert. in DTh), Ravimal Galappaththi (MD, Cert. in DTh) and Chandima Gunaratne (MS in Ayurveda, Cert. in DTh).
According to the participants, the programme was very productive, as it helped them to learn the efficacy of dramatherapy. One participant said: “This helped us to build a good understanding about dramatherapy.” Another participant said: “We thought that it is only about acting and singing, but now we know that dramatherapy is not about just acting and singing.” There was a participant who attended the programme in order to know how to manage his depressive thoughts. This participant said: “I learnt how to keep myself happy. There had been no chance for me to get this learning. Doctors prescribed only tablets, but this is completely different.” A person who joined this event said: “I am a person who gets angry very much. I learnt some tools to control myself.” Several persons said that “it is good to have a dramatherapy day, to learn how to improve mental health”.
This initial effort in Sri Lanka to make dramatherapy known to the public was a success, as indicated by the participant remarks. The programme concluded by 5 p.m. on that day.